Editor’s note: Straightforward is a weekly column by Association TRENDS’ executive editor, Jill M. Cornish, IOM.
So many associations are moving to digital communications. Yes, that is a trend, but in too many cases there has not been enough thought put into the move. Many people, not just Gen X and Gen Y, are Linked-In and connected. Many use their iPhones to communicate daily. Some have disconnected their landlines and disposed of their desktop computers, preferring mobile technology for all their requirements.
But, does that sound like your members? Have your constituents made the move to all digital? What have they told you about your association’s magazine, the professional journals that they keep for years, the printed directory that is so dog-eared and marked up? What about the promotions for the annual convention and tradeshow? The special program to honor members? The education and social events? Do you still send brochures and postcards by snail mail or are they all produced and delivered digitally?
While some organizations can, and have, made the move very successfully to eliminate excess paper and costs, as well as to meet members’ digital needs, others are finding that they must provide what their members want, in the format that they prefer.
Do your research and planning upfront. Don’t decide on format changes just because everyone else is doing it or because the association’s staff complain about the extra labor required to produce a product in more than one format. What do the members, customers, participants and guests want?
Years ago, when I was sewing my children’s clothes and pasting up half tones on TRENDS layouts, I learned: “measure twice, cut once.” The same applies here: research, research, research and plan, then decide. You’ll find your members are better served.